Turkey’s interior minister has said the bodies of 12 people who died have been found near Turkey’s border with Greece, accusing Greek border guards of pushing them back to the border.
Suleiman Soylus tweeted Those killed were found “without shoes and without their clothes” across the Ipsala border and were among 22 who were allegedly pushed back into Turkey by Greek border guards.
The home minister did not give further details but shared blurry pictures of eight of the recovered bodies, including three in shorts and T-shirts.
Soylu accused Greek border units of acting as “thugs” towards asylum seekers, while showing sympathy for members of a network of people Turkey says is behind the failed 2016 military coup that led Greece have fled.
He also accused the EU of being “helpless, weak and inhuman”.
Greece’s Minister of Migration and Asylum, Notice Mitarachi, said the deaths were a tragedy, but strongly denied claims that Greek forces had pushed people back into Turkey.
“The truth behind the incident has nothing to do with the false propaganda made public by my colleague Mr. Soylu,” Mitarachi said. “These specific migrants never made it to the border. Any suggestion that they can reach him or that he has been deported back to Turkey is utter nonsense. ,
Mitarachi accused Turkey of failing to prevent people from entering the border area and making “these dangerous trips”.
“If we want to prevent such tragedies from happening again, Turkey must fulfill its responsibility instead of blaming others,” he said.
Turkey often accuses Greece of illegally pushing back those wishing to make their way into Europe to prevent them from applying for international protection. Greece denies the allegations.
The governor’s office of Edirne, a Turkish province near the land border with Greece, said one of the 12 deaths occurred in a hospital after being rescued by Turkish authorities. There was no information about the nationality of the people.
Turkey, which hosts some 3.7 million Syrian refugees, is a major crossing point for people from the Middle East, Asia and Africa trying to reach the European Union.
Most try to cross into Greece – a major gateway to the European Union for people fleeing war or poverty – either by crossing the northeast land border or in smuggled boats headed to the eastern Aegean Sea islands. By entering
Recently, smuggling gangs are also using boats from Turkey to Italy. Dozens of people died last month in the Central Aegean.